Summary and Analysis: Chapter 20
Thankful Peabody: a local woman who gets married the winter after Kit’s trial.
On the day of the first winter snowfall, Mercy insists on getting out of bed, though she is still weak. Mercy loves the snow for how beautiful it makes the world, but Kit is not sure she likes it. She likes the beauty but not how the snow shrinks and muffles the world. That night, once a team of oxen has pulled a plow to partially clear the streets, William comes to visit Kit for the first time since the arrest. The conversation again limps along, until William tries to council Kit to show more judgment in the future and not spend time with people like Hannah Tupper. This leads Kit to a realization that no matter how much they work at it, they will never be enough alike to marry, and she tells William not to come calling anymore.
Kit does not see William again until Thankful Peabody’s wedding. There, she and Judith try to enjoy the festivities, but Judith is caught up in her concerns about her own marriage and Kit is simply lonely. Suddenly, two men who had been part of the Wethersfield militia enter with sad news. Of the twenty men from the village who had joined the militia, only eight returned. Some had been killed, and some had been taken captive, including John Holbrook. Judith faints away at the news, and Mercy, who still loves John secretly, must suffer in silence.
Since the Puritans do not celebrate Christmas, and there is no news of John’s fate, the cold and depressing winter stretches on. By February, Kit is dreaming of the Dolphin and yearning to sail home to Barbados, but it is not until March that conditions change again. In the midst of yet another blizzard, a knock comes at the door. When Kit opens it, John Holbrook stumbles in and falls in the lap of Mercy, his true love.
This chapter provides another of the novel’s happy outcomes, this one for John and Mercy. It is striking how simply their star-crossed love works out; it is as if Speare is saying, “Social conventions are all well and good, but once your life is at stake, you know the meaning of love.” Before that, though, the chapter provides yet another block of evidence that Kit does not belong in Connecticut. While Kit appreciates the alien wonder of the snow, she cannot share Mercy’s deep love for its beauty, and she ultimately distrusts it.